Four rules to follow in a family business

four rules to follow in a family business - Four rules to follow in a family business

By Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo

Working with family can literally be bad business. Stories of feuds that have led to broken bonds and lawsuits act as cautionary tales for those who even think of going down that path.

But others will say that it is one of the best decisions that they have ever made. AIDE, a mobile platform that allows users to book medical professionals for home visits, is run by three of four Bugayong siblings. Pamela Bugayong-Donatao, the eldest, is the chief operating officer; Paolo Bugayong, the middle child, is the chief executive officer; and Dr. Patrick Bugayong, the youngest, is the chief product officer. Furthermore, their parents and their remaining sibling are shareholders. 

“I really can’t find another better partner than these guys. For me, they are my perfect co-founders,” said Mr. Bugayong during a webinar organized by StartUp Village, a business incubator and accelerator. 

Whether it’s at home or at the office, relationships need to establish a common ground to work. Here are four rules that family entrepreneurs can follow to help ensure peace and collaboration among themselves.

  1. Treat each other like professionals.

    Every group of siblings has its ate and kuya, but the implications of these titles must disappear inside the office. “We all have our positions, and we respect each other when it comes to those positions… That’s the most important rule to me, as the youngest,” said Dr. Bugayong.

    This professionalism must extend to compensation. Rewards should be based on work and not on personal factors.

  2. Communicate with each other.

    When it comes to communication, family members shouldn’t rely on their deep personal understanding of each other and their ability to read one another when it comes to business matters. Having grown up together doesn’t guarantee seeing eye to eye.

    The Bugayongs have what they call “talk time,” where the siblings discuss what’s happening in their respective departments.“Communication is key if you want your business to be successful,” said Mrs. Bugayong-Donato. “Everybody is free to express their own ideas and share their suggestions.”

  3. Talk about work at home if you must, but know when to stop.

    On the other side of the coin, family members should know when to stop talking shop. Rules vary when it comes to bringing work to the dinner table; the Bugayong siblings have accepted that they cannot help it. “We really just tend to divert and go into discussion a little bit about AIDE, then go back again,” said Mr. Bugayong.

    While this may be the general rule, siblings must be sensitive to each other. “If you’re tired, someone just presses a button like, ‘Let’s just talk about it on Monday or when we’re in the office,’ and everyone’s just, ‘Okay, let’s just talk about it next time,’” said Dr. Bugayong.>

  4. Enjoy your family’s company.

    Not everyone has the pleasure of working with their siblings, especially if they have a great relationship. This should be maximized and strengthened whenever possible, whether it’s through hosting regular lunch-outs or goofing around during breaks.

    Sibling support becomes even more important and meaningful during tough times. “If you’re having a bad day, just have a drink with your siblings, and everything becomes okay after a few beers,” said Dr. Bugayong.

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